We've definitely found the dog days of summer across the Tennessee Valley.
The best action for the most part is for bream and bluegill as well as catfish during some of the hottest days of the year. But that doesn't mean you still can't catch bass and crappie.
Go deep for bass during the day and don't forget the nighttime opportunities. Big crankbaits are the best daytime bet. Big plastic worms and spinnerbaits are dominating the after dark bass bite. Crappie action isn't limited to the night, but it's definitely best under lights with minnows.
Boone Lake is one of the hottest nighttime bass lakes going right now. Tournament angler Eddie Nuckols said the latest nighttime tournament there saw more than 18 pounds take first place. It's been taking 18 to 19 pounds to win the seven-hour rodeos.
Just before dark several bass have been caught on topwater bites. After dark, the action is best by far on jigs and spinnerbaits. The water temperature is 81 degrees.
Tournament anglers Donald Ensor and Ricky Chappell took the most recent nighttime tournament winnings at Watauga Lake with more than 11 pounds of smallmouth bass. The strangest part about the Watauga bite is that the after dark bass bite is off. They're just hard to come by at night right now. The water temperature is 80 degrees.
The best action has been before dark on topwater baits. Pop-Rs and buzzbaits have been productive. After dark, a few bass have been caught on jigs and spinnerbaits, but it's slow. Anglers say they'll hit the baits, but it's almost like they don't really want them.
South Holston Lake
Some bass fishermen would like to have tournament weights of 14 pounds right now. That's what it's taking to win at South Holston Lake. But that's slow for this productive nighttime smallmouth fishery. The water temperature is 80 to 82 degrees.
Eddie Nuckols said the million dollar question is what they're hitting on best. It's a slow bite, and that means finesse worms worked around deep brush have been best. The Dead Ringer is being talked about a lot. Nuckols said the smallies want no part of a jig or spinnerbait after dark. You'd better be using a drop-shot.
There haven't been a lot of numbers being caught at Cherokee Lake recently, but tournament angler Matt Myers said there have been some good bass boated. The quality is better than the quantity lately. The water temperature is 85 degrees.
In the daytime, you can still find bass on deep running crankbaits. You can also boat a few on topwater plugs like a Pop-R around shallow rocks and brush. At night, big plastic worms are the ticket.
In a recent 3-hour tournament Myers placed second with 12.5-pounds. The winning weight was more than 14 pounds. He said you can expect to take eight to nine bass in a three-hour tournament right now. That's not bad and the better bass are coming after dark for sure.
Bucky Molter at Bucks-N-Bass said the water temperature is in the low 80s. He said the best bass pattern lately has been on big Zoom Old Monster Worms and 10-inch Berkley Power Worms at Douglas Lake.
A few bass have been caught during the day on deep running crankbaits, but the worm is best at night. A spinnerbait has also been productive after dark.
The water temperature at Chickamauga Lake is in the mid-80s. Vicki Fryar at Hamilton's Sport Shop said it's still hot and dry. She also said the bass are deep and hitting big plastic worms. The catfish bite is best on cutbait and nightcrawlers in the summer's heat.
They aren't seeing as many crappie come in, but a few can be caught at night under lights with minnows. The bream fishing is really good on redworms and crickets. Good numbers are coming, but they're running small in size.
Fort Loudoun Lake
Chris Henderson at One Limit Bait Shop said the fishing is a little on the tough side at Fort Loudoun Lake. He said bass fishermen really need to be focused on the schools of shad now. The water temperature is 76 to 80 degrees.
Deep jigs, worms, and deep running crankbaits will still get some attention, but Chris said you need to keep a topwater bait tied on for schooling bass.
The night bite is way off. The last Friday night tournament was won with only 11 pounds and only 5 boats caught limits.
Watts Bar Lake
he water temperature at Watts Bar Lake is 81 degrees. Chris Henderson at One Limit Bait Shop said the feeding times are a little off, but some largemouth bass can still be caught.
The best times to find them now are between 1 o'clock in the afternoon and 5 p.m. and then again from about 4 a.m. until daylight.
Henderson said not as many are in the jumps at Watts Bar but keep a topwater plug close. The best action is still happening on deep diving crankbaits and big plastic worms. The Zoom Old Monster is a green pumpkin or red shad has been best.
Melton Hill Lake
Tournament angler Dwayne Raines said fishing continues to be influenced by discharge from Norris Dam. The Bull Run/Solway area has mid-60 degree water in the channel. Bull Run Creek and Beaver Creek are warmer in the 70s with muddy water from the recent rains. The water starts to warm into the 70s below Beaver Creek, even warmer in the creeks and larger coves.
Dwayne said a lot of the baitfish has moved to the warmer water and the bass have followed. Fish points and shoreline cover in the coves and creeks with spinnerbaits, topwater lures, and plastic worms. Muddy and discolored water in some of these areas should not be overlooked.
He said to remember to change
your bait colors if you have been fishing the clearer areas of the lake. Dwayne and Chip Proffitt took the last tournament with four fish that weighed 11.99 pounds—an improvement for Melton Hill.
The water temperature at Norris Lake is 81 to 82 degrees. Guide Wayne Smith said they're catching a few stripers right now. The bite is actually picking up and is the best action on the lake in the late summer's heat.
Smith is catching them on downlines in 20 to 22 feet of water with live shad. He's still finding a few alewives early in the morning for bait.
Old Hickory Lake
Flipper at Flipper's Bait & Tackle said it's just plain dead at Old Hickory where the water temperature is a steamy 88 to 92 degrees. To put it frankly, he said the bass fishing sucks.
The last Sunday tournament had the lowest winning weight they've seen in 3 years at 9 pounds, 10 ounces. The few bass that are interested have been hitting small plastics, jigs, spinnerbaits, and topwater baits. They're just scattered all over and developing an open water feeding pattern due to the large number of shad that are up.
Cordell Hull Lake
Barbara Taylor at Granville Marina said anglers report that the stripers are just now starting to surface at Cordell Hull Lake. The largemouth bass are biting, but they're still running small in size. The water temperature is 82 to 85 degrees.
Most of the bass have gone deep, but you can find them on crankbaits, Rooster-tails, and frogs. Bluegill are biting good on redworms and crickets. The crappie are slow.
Percy Priest Lake
Guide Jim Duckworth said the water temperature is a very warm 88 degrees on Percy Priest Lake. Early in the morning there's a good topwater bass bite happening on white Tru-Tungsten buzzbaits as well as the walking or spitting type topwater plugs.
Jim said he's catching the better fish on the buzzbaits and numbers on the poppers. Once the sun gets up, Jim is switching to a 300 Series Bandit along drops with 10 to 15 feet of water.
Catfish are hitting good at night on jugs baited with shrimp, nightcrawlers, and minnows. Anglers are also catching several crappie trolling 200 Series Bandits on flats all over the lake.
Dale Hollow Lake
Guide Ralph Sandfer at Dale Hollow Lake said the water temperature is 87 hot degrees and warmer than bath water. He's finding smallies mostly deep but anywhere from 1 to 30 feet of water when they move up to feed at night.
One night the smallies will be on points and then the next on steep bluff walls. Ralph said he's finding anywhere from five to eight good smallies per trip at night. The big smallies are averaging more than 4 pounds. Catch them and others on 1/4-ounce jigs and 1/2-ounce to 1-ounce spinnerbaits after dark.
Center Hill Lake
The water temperature is also a hot 88 degrees on Center Hill Lake. Guide Jim Duckworth said the bass bite is strictly happening at night. A 10-inch Berkley Gulp Worm and a 4-inch Berkley Power Craw are good bets in 8 to 15 feet of water. The crappie fishing is best in 25 to 35 feet of water on jigs and minnows over brush.
A few walleye are being caught on trolled Walleye Bandits in the Blue Hole and Floating Mills areas. The night jugging for catfish is also tremendous right now. Bluegill can be caught as deep as 30 to 40 feet on crickets. Find them along bridge pilings and bluffs where the river channel comes into them.
Tims Ford Lake
The warm weather also has most of the fishing slowed at Tims Ford Lake as well. Tina Neal at Tims Ford Marina said the best fishing right now is for rockfish. They're being caught with live shad on downlines in 20 to 25 feet of water. The biggest lately have been running in the 16 to 17-pound class.
The bass fishing is pretty slow even at night. You can still catch some decent bluegill around docks. Redworms and crickets should get you through the tough times.
Guide Dave Stewart said the water temperature at Kentucky Lake is 85 degrees. Bass are deep on ledges and hitting Carolina-rigs. There's also a topwater bite throughout the day around the grassbeds. Spro Frogs are working over the thick mats of grass.
There's also a spinnerbait and Chatterbait bass bite on the edges of the grass to be had. The nighttime bite is a little slow with the lack of current these days.
Billy Blakely said the water temperature is in the mid-80s on Reelfoot Lake. The bluegill are still biting pretty good in about two feet of water but on crickets now. The largemouth bass fishing is good around lilypads and the mouths of ditches on spinnerbaits. There's also some topwater action to be had early in the morning.
The catfish activity is also decent on nightcrawlers. And don't overlook the crappie that have started to hit jigs around visible stumps.
Guide Roger Stegall said the water temperature at Pickwick Lake is 84 to 85 degrees. That hasn't stopped him from taking eight trips in six days. He's had customers take 5-pound largemouths and a couple of 4 and 5-pound smallies.
Stegall said the bass have been hitting big Old Monster Worms and Strike King finesse worms as well as Brush Hogs. He did also say the fishing is slowing down with the approaching dog days.
Danny Gray at Gray's Tackle said it's taking more than 12 pounds to win the bass tournaments at Wilson Lake. That's not bad considering the top three spots in the latest tournament all had more than 12 pounds. The water temperature is in the mid-80s.
Almost all of the bass being caught are still largemouths. The last tournament winner did have a 4-pound, 13-ounce kicker smallmouth.
The smallmouth bite is still pretty tough, but a few can be caught. Spinnerbaits have been the top bass producers. Most of the bass are located in eight feet of water with current.
It's a warm 85 degrees at Guntersville Lake. Doug Campbell at Waterfront Grocery said the bass have slowed, but a few big ones are still being caught. He's seen some 7 and 8-pounders but nothing more than 8 pounds. Still, he said it's been one of the best summers for big bass.
Catch them early on Ribbits and Surface Demon buzzbaits. In the mid-day, you can flip a Sweet Beaver or work a Snag Proof Frog over the grass mats. Big crankbaits like a Fat Free Shad or a big swimming worm are good up in the day in eight feet of water.
Larry “Dirt” Hughes at Townson's Bait & Tackle said the stripes are running in the current at Wheeler Lake. The water temperature is in the mid-80s. Dirt said you can catch white bass two at a time on double-jig rigs. They're averaging about a pound in size.
Catfish are hitting on chicken livers, nightcrawlers, and cut shad below the dam. The biggest cats lately have been in the 15 to 20-pound range. There's still a big willow fly hatch going on, and that means plenty of bluegill action.
Jerry Baker at WEIS Radio said the hot weather has most of the fishing on Weiss Lake in a strangle hold. The water temperature is 78 degrees. Anglers are catching a few bass here and there, but the best fishing is definitely for schooling white bass in the afternoons.
They're surfacing on the Coosa River between Spring and Cowan Creeks and in the Little River from Hog Island down to where the Little River dumps into the Coosa.
You can catch them on Johnson Silver Minnows, Rooster-tails, and small Rat-L-Traps. Double and triple jig rigs are also working for multiple catches.
The 6 to 8-pound hybrids hanging below the schools of white bass are bonus catches as well.
Guide Dave Stewart said the water temperature is 85 degrees at Lake Barkley. The bass fishing is tough, but a few can be found in deeper areas. It's tough in the heat, but if you can take it—they'll bite sometime during the day.
Find most of the bass action out on the ledges at Barkley. The largemouths are holding in 15 to 20 feet of water. Your best bait bets right now are Carolina-rigs and big jigs.
The water temperature at Lake Cumberland is 84 degrees. Rick Mercader at Grider Hill Dock said the rockfish bite is still good, but they're running a little smaller. Most have been in the 15 to 20-pound class lately. Catch them on downlines with cut shad in 30 to 40 feet of water.
There's no solid word on the smallmouth action as the bass bite has slowed with the hot water and weather. The crappie bite is slow, but a few bluegill can be caught with crickets around cover.